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NUCLEAR SCANS
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Nuclear Scans Cost

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NUCLEAR SCANS cost Across India

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FAQs for NUCLEAR SCANS

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of disease or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body.

Nuclear Medicine Imaging is a test that produces pictures (scans) of internal body parts using small amounts of radioactive material. Because of the special materials and equipment needed, these scans are usually done in the radiology or nuclear medicine department of a hospital. This test is used to provide images of organs and areas of the body that cannot be seen well with standard X-rays. Nuclear medicine scans use a special camera (gamma) to take pictures of tissues and organs in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) is put in a vein in the arm and is absorbed by the tissues and organs. The radioactive tracer shows the activity and function of the tissues or organs.

Nuclear medicine scans can help doctors find tumours and see how much the cancer has spread in the body also called the cancer’s stage. They may also be used to determine if treatment is working. These tests are painless and usually done as an outpatient procedure. The specific type of nuclear scan you’ll have depends on which organ the doctor wants to look into. Nuclear scans are safe tests. The doses of radiation are very small, and the radionuclides have a low risk of being toxic or causing an allergic reaction.

Nuclear scans make pictures based on the body’s chemistry like metabolism.

Body tissues affected by certain diseases such as cancer may absorb more or less of the tracer than normal tissues. Special cameras pick up the pattern of radioactivity to create pictures that show where the tracer travels and where it is collected. If cancer is present, the tumour may show up on the picture as a “hot spot” – an area of increased cell activity and tracer uptake. Depending on the type of scan done, the tumour might instead be a “cold spot” – a site of decreased uptake and less cell activity.

Nuclear scans may not find very small tumours, and cannot always tell whether a tumour is really cancer. These scans can show some internal organ and tissue problems better than other imaging tests, but they don’t provide very detailed images on their own. Because of this, they are often used along with other imaging tests to give a complete picture. Some nuclear scans are also used to measure heart function.

In most cases a tracer or radionuclide that sends out small doses of radiation is given. Some are swallowed while others are put into a vein or inhaled as a gas. Over time, the tracer collects in the part of the body that is being tested. This can take from a few seconds to several days. The collected tracer sends out gamma rays that are picked up by a special camera which are processed by a computer, which turns them into 2D or 3D pictures and are interpreted by a specialist.

Some of the nuclear medicine scans most commonly used for cancer are:

  • Bone scans - Bone scans look for cancers that may have spread metastasis from other places to the bones. They can often find bone changes much earlier than regular X-rays. The tracer collects in the bone over a few hours and then the scans are done. Early or delayed images are taken as per the requirement.
  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans - PET scans usually use a form of radioactive sugar. Body cells take in different amounts of the sugar, depending on how fast they are growing. Cancer cells which grow quickly are more likely to take up larger amounts of the sugar than normal cells. PET/CT scanners give information on any areas of increased cell activity (from the PET), as well as show more detail in these areas (from the CT). This helps doctors pinpoint tumours.
  • Thyroid scans - Radioactive iodine iodine-123 or iodine-131 is given orally. It goes onto the blood stream and collects in the thyroid gland. This scan can be used to find thyroid cancers. Radioactive iodine can also be used to treat thyroid cancer.
  • MUGA (Multigated acquisition) scans - This scan looks at heart function. It may be used to check heart function before, during, and after certain type of chemotherapy. The doctor may switch you to a different kind of chemotherapy depending on the report. The scanner shows how the heart moves the blood as it carries the tracer, which binds to red blood cells. The test tells the ejection fraction, which is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart.
  • Gallium scans - Gallium-67 is the tracer used in this test to look for cancer in certain organs or for whole body scan. The scanner looks for places where the gallium has collected in the body to see infection, inflammation or cancer.
  • Renogram - A renogram is performed using a special radioactive material that when injected into the blood stream shows the kidney blood supply and filtering action of the kidneys. 

The steps needed to prepare for a nuclear medicine scan depend on the type of test and the tissue that will be studied. Some scans require fasting for 2 to 12 hours before the test. For others, you may be asked to take a laxative or use an enema. The medical team may ask the patient to avoid some medicines, drugs, vitamins and herbs before the test. Reactions to the radioactive material are very rare. The known allergies must be conveyed to the medical team. The radioactive material may be given anywhere from a few minutes to many hours before the test.

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